Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Belltower: Stonehenge improved

From page A4 | December 30, 2013 |

When my son was 14 and my daughter in junior college we took them on a trip to Europe. In London we visited the Tower of London and Trafalgar Square, among other things. On our way to Trafalgar Square we realized we had come upon a gay parade — and this one was way bigger than the one in San Francisco. It was huge. Afterward parade participants scattered around the city and we caught site of one with a hoop skirt as big as the Mother Goose character in the Nutcracker Ballet.

England remains perennially cute. Cute includes a municipal band that entertains patrons at Paddington Station. Paddington is where we caught the train to Bath. From the train station in Bath we walked about a block to the Best Western Motel, which seemed more American than British — a very comfortable surprise.

My wife stayed behind in Bath and caught a performance of the boys choir at the Anglican church next to the old Roman bath. I rented a car and the kids and I were off to the Salisbury Plain. Right-hand drive was no problem for me. I had spent a summer in New Zealand while in the Navy and bought and rebuilt a 1947 English Ford, which I drove all over the place. Right-hand-drive and circles were a snap. The only real problem is being a pedestrian who still naturally looks left first instead of right first.

Arriving at Stonehenge, I was surprised to find it near the fork of two highways. It was still impressive, though.

Now, the Associated Press reported that the road right next Stonehenge is being closed and grassed over. The visitors center has been totally redone and includes a diorama of Stonehenge and bus service to the collection of BC blue stones hauled in from 175 mile in 3000 BC. Or one can walk the 1.5-mile path to get there. Either way the tickets are now going to cost you $24 each to help pay the $44 million spent on relocating the highway and building the fancy-schmancy center with a diorama and a metal model of Stonehenge. Maybe that price will discourage modern-day Druids who gather there for winter and summer solstices by the thousands.

Equally fascinating for me is the Avebury Circle. At 28 acres it is the largest stone circle in the world. The circle of stones goes right through the middle of the little village of Avebury. There are actually two circles inside of the large outer circle. Only the outer ring is apparent to anyone but an archeologist. And visible from Avebury is a large chalk mound (131 feet high) called Silbury Hill. No one is buried there. It is just another mystery monument, shaped somewhat like the mound of dirt piled on the south side of the Ray Lawyer Driver overpass. No one is buried there either. So far that is a mystery monument as well.

Avebury has no admission fee. It is open to anyone who can find a place to park.  The Avebury henge attracts people who stand, sit and crouch under the rocks or hug them as though they absorb some mystic empowerment from the stones that date back to about 2600 BC.

Who am I to say they can’t? Though the rock huggers look a little dopey. The Avebury Circle was so much larger in diameter than Stonehenge, but less dramatic. When we drove on to Salisbury Cathedral I found that pretty impressive and somewhat mystical, though the rock huggers might have regarded me as dopey. My son didn’t wake up from his sleep in the back of the Austin Minor and never saw the cathedral. Not sure how a 6-foot-5-inch 14-year-old managed to curl up in the back of the Austin. It was mystical, for  sure.

Michael Raffety is editor of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears biweekly.



Michael Raffety



District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17